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Senate committee passes prison initiative

The Senate Finance Taxation General Fund Committee passed the Alabama Prison Transformative Initiative Act today.

The bill will now go to the Senate for debate.

“For decades, Alabama’s prisons have become increasingly overcrowded, dangerous to both inmates and our corrections officers and incredibly costly to taxpayers,” Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement. “I commend the Senate committee for passing the long needed Prison Transformation Initiative Act out of committee today. This bill will allow Alabama to take the next step toward constructing four new prisons, which will provide safer conditions for our corrections officers as well as inmates in facilities such as Tutwiler Prison for Women. Alabama can and should be a national leader in safe and effective incarceration of inmates. I look forward to continuing a partnership with the members of the Legislature to make Alabama a truly great state.”

The purpose of the act is to reduce overcrowding and improve safety conditions for inmates and corrections officers, allow for additional inmate re-entry programs and to improve operational practices and procedures for the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC). The legislation, if passed, allows for the issuance in upward of $800 million in bonds for up to 30 years by the Alabama Corrections Institutions Finance Authority with the debt service on these bonds to be paid from savings within the annual budget of the ADOC.

Through the initiative, the ADOC will consolidate 13 of 15 male maximum and medium security prisons into three 4,000-bed facilities, ADOC Public Relations Coordinator Bob Horton said.

The three men’s facilities will be designed to house at least 3,500 inmates. This initiative is part of Governor Bentley’s Great State 2019 Plan.

The passage of the bill in the Senate committee comes a day after Bentley toured the William C. Holman Correctional Facility, where a riot and two stabbings occurred over a matter of four days.